I’m in Mankato, MN for the annual LABMAN conference. Puddle-jumper from Plattsburgh to Boston, then a 6-wide from Boston to Minneapolis, and a 75 mile drive to Mankato. (Google-map it yourself if you’re that curious.)
Now, all airports look the same. Hudson News. Dunkin’ Donuts. McDonalds. *yawn* I can forgive them because, well, airports aren’t really "anywhere", are they? I like to think of them as being in another dimension. You’re not really in the Real World until you leave the airport.
But the Real World can really suck. Cities are always interesting. And individual, despite there being a Starbucks on every corner. The layout, the architecture…hell, even the TRAFFIC patterns are all interesting in their own right. But as I left Minneapolis, greatly resisting the urge to veer into the Mall Of America parking lot lest I stay there the WHOLE WEEK, things began to feel eerily…"familiar."
As I turned onto 169 heading south for Mankato, I could just have well have been on route 11 west/south of Canton. Barely rolling hills, full of green and farmland. I’m not what you call "well-traveled" and was looking forward to seeing "new stuff". Sure, there were local farm stands. And I went through one or two towns. And I’m sure that three blocks over off the main drag they have their own personalities. But WHY is the default, generic America–what everyone on the main drag sees–so STERILE and UNORIGINAL?! I kid you not, I’ve traveled what, 1000 miles? And there they are as if I’d never left them: Burger King. McDonald’s. Arby’s. Perkins. Dairy Queen.
EVERYWHERE. I’ve seen at least 3 of each of those so far.
Fortunately I like to explore. I posted on a web form for advice and one person suggested Pagliai’s Pizza on Front Street. I quickly found it and THAT’S what I’m talking about! Local fare in a local "joint" run by local people. McDonald’s and it’s ilk ought to be relegated to the malls or lumped into some Food Court off the beaten path. You should have to hunt for them.